Kelli Pease was more than just a talented starter for four years on the Lansdowne varsity softball squad.
According to coach Jamie Izdebski, Pease had something in her that she didn't need to be taught.
"You can't teach the will and the drive to win," Izdebski said. "You have to want it by yourself, and Kelli is one of those kids who has it."
When she wasn't displaying hustle and determination on the softball field, Pease brought those same qualities to the basketball or volleyball court.
Her success in those sports helped her earn the Arbutus Times Female Athlete of the Year for the second straight year.
Meanwhile, Pease is playing summer softball for the Catonsville Chaos and next spring she'll suit up for the Sea Gulls of Salisbury University.
"I think she's going to do fine (in college)," Izdebski said. "She gives everything all the time. She loves softball and it's a passion. She is always going to do the best she can and she'll be successful."
Success as a leadoff hitter surfaced early in her career when, during the 2009 state championship game, she managed the only two hits off University of Virginia-bound hurler Melanie Mitchell, who had a 0.00 earned run average and struck out 19 Vikings that day.
"She sets the tone for the game," Izdebski said. "The rest of the girls look to her and see that if she can get on, so can they."
This season, the First Team All-County center fielder batted .365 with four home runs, three triples, five doubles and a .676 slugging percentage.
She also drove in 37 runs, scored 43 times and did not commit an error in 127 innings in the outfield.
From her accustomed spot at the top of the order, Pease was usually the catalyst for rallies.
"The big thing for me as the leadoff hitter is I've got to get everybody started and let everyone know what I'm seeing up at the plate," Pease said. "(I try to) work the count a little bit, so they can see what (the opposing pitcher) is throwing."
That formula helped the Vikings pound out 14 hits in a 5-1 victory over Eastern Tech in the regional championship game in May.
With Pease leading the charge, they attacked the first-pitch fastball of Eastern Tech hurler Jordan Cargile to beat the Mavericks for the first time in three tries.
"We beat them when it counted, and that was good for us. That was an extremely satisfying game," said Pease, who belted two triples in an earlier county championship game loss to Eastern Tech.
The senior was also proud of the victory over McDonough, of Calvert County, in a state semifinal that propelled Lansdowne to a state final berth for the second time in three years.
"That semifinal game against McDonough was really big for us," Pease said. "All the seniors had been playing together for so long, and we were so close and we really wanted it."
The dream for a state championship ended in an 8-5 loss to Easton for the 20-4 Vikings.
"I was disappointed that we lost, obviously, but I was happy we made it (that far) for the second time — so I was pretty satisfied overall," Pease said.
After playing basketball her first two years, Pease didn't play as a junior and missed it.
Therefore, she returned to the backcourt this season and was the team's McCormick Unsung Hero's award nominee.
"Basketball was a positive, and it kept me in shape," she said. "I'm glad I played. I had a lot of fun."
Her varsity basketball coach as a freshman, John Komosa, said he knew of her determination on and off the court.
"She has the drive and the will, and it all comes from inside," said Komosa, who was also Pease's guidance counselor. "She does it all."
The senior star was also the starting setter on the volleyball team for Izdebski, who noted that Pease represented the Vikings at the county senior all-star game.
"The coach from Towson (Emily Berman) said she wished she could have had her (longer) because of the way she hustled all over the floor," Izdebski said. "Kelli always wants to improve (in every sport) all the time,"
Pease is prepared for the challenge of playing in college and knows where her focus lies.
"I feel like what I need to work on is the mental part of the game," she said. "I know physically I'm capable of doing a lot, so I'm pretty confident in that area. I just have to stay mentally aware of what I can do and do the best I can."
The National Honor Society member, who boasted a 3.92 grade point average while taking Advanced Placement courses in English, Biology and Psychology, is also prepared academically to study nursing.
"I'm nervous, but I'm excited," said Pease. "I just can't imagine not playing any more sports after high school."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun